Discordianism is a modern, chaos-based religion founded in either 1958 or 1959. It has been described as both an elaborate joke disguised as a religion, and as a religion disguised as an elaborate joke. Some of its followers make the claim that it is "a religion disguised as a joke disguised as a religion" (or "a joke disguised as a religion disguised as a joke disguised as..."). It has also been described as "Zen for roundeyes," and converges with some of the more absurdist interpretations of the Rinzai school.
The foundational document of Discordianism is the Principia Discordia, fourth edition, written by Malaclypse The Younger (most likely an alias of Greg Hill). This book contains many references to an earlier source, The Honest Book of Truth (HBT). From the quotations, the HBT seems to be arranged like the Bible, consisting of verses grouped into chapters grouped into books grouped into the HBT itself. The Principia includes (on page 00041) a large portion of (or possibly all of) a chapter of "The Book of Explanations" which recounts how the HBT was revealed to Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst (believed by many to be Kerry Thornley).
It may be worth noting that the tale of the discovery of the HBT contains many similarities to the tale of the discovery of the Book of Mormon, and that Thornley had been a Mormon. It also includes (on page 00030) part of the next chapter, telling how the HBT was taken by a garbage collector, who refused to return it.
Although most religions revere the principles of harmony and order in the Universe, Discordianism can be interpreted as a recognition that disharmony and chaos are equally valid aspects of reality. The Principia Discordia often hints that Discordianism was founded as a dialectic antithesis to more popular religions based on order, although the rhetoric throughout the book describes chaos as a much more underlying impulse of the universe.
This may have been done with the intention of merely "balancing out" the creative forces of order and disorder, but the focus is certainly on the more disorderly aspects of the world — at times the forces of order are even vilified. The matron deity of Discordianism is Eris, the ancient Greek goddess of discord, with whom the Romans identified their goddess Discordia.
In April 2006, Principia Discordia, First Edition was reportedly recovered from the John F. Kennedy archives. This contains Malaclypse the Younger's long-sought-for The Myth of Ichabod, more commonly known as The Myth of Starbuck. According to the first edition, this originally appeared in Summa Universalia.
There are as many interpretations of Discordianism as there are Discordians, and several definitions of Discordianism on the Internet center around the words "Ancient Greeks", "Chaos Worship" and "Anarchism". This is an extremely debatable assertion of what would define Discordian philosophy as a whole; Indeed, it is a notion directly confronted by the concept of the Eristic Illusion, as mentioned in the following passage, a summary of part of the Discordian philosophy which appears on pages 00049 and 00050 of the Principia Discordia. The following is a quote extracted from Principia Discordia (All Rites Reversed):
HERE FOLLOWS SOME PSYCHO-METAPHYSICS. If you are not hot for philosophy, best just to skip it. The Aneristic Principle is that of APPARENT ORDER; the Eristic Principle is that of APPARENT DISORDER. Both order and disorder are man made concepts and are artificial divisions of PURE CHAOS, which is a level deeper than is the level of distinction making.
With our concept making apparatus called "mind" we look at reality through the ideas-about-reality which our cultures give us. The ideas-about-reality are mistakenly labeled "reality" and unenlightened people are forever perplexed by the fact that other people, especially other cultures, see "reality" differently. It is only the ideas-about-reality which differ. Real (capital-T True) reality is a level deeper than is the level of concept. We look at the world through windows on which have been drawn grids (concepts). Different philosophies use different grids. A culture is a group of people with rather similar grids. Through a window we view chaos, and relate it to the points on our grid, and thereby understand it.
The ORDER is in the GRID. That is the Aneristic Principle. Western philosophy is traditionally concerned with contrasting one grid with another grid, and amending grids in hopes of finding a perfect one that will account for all reality and will, hence, (say unenlightened westerners) be True. This is illusory; it is what we Erisians call the ANERISTIC ILLUSION. Some grids can be more useful than others, some more beautiful than others, some more pleasant than others, etc., but none can be more True than any other. DISORDER is simply unrelated information viewed through some particular grid. But, like "relation", no-relation is a concept. Male, like female, is an idea about sex.
To say that male-ness is "absence of female-ness", or vice versa, is a matter of definition and metaphysically arbitrary. The artificial concept of no-relation is the Eristic Principle. The belief that "order is true" and disorder is false or somehow wrong, is the Aneristic Illusion.
To say the same of disorder, is the Eristic Illusion. The point is that (little-t) truth is a matter of definition relative to the grid one is using at the moment, and that (capital-T) Truth, metaphysical reality, is irrelevant to grids entirely. Pick a grid, and through it some chaos appears ordered and some appears disordered. Pick another grid, and the same chaos will appear differently ordered and disordered. Reality is the original Rorschach. Verily! So much for all that.
And this from the Principia Discordia's very beginning, a Discordian koan:
GREATER POOP: Is Eris true? MALACLYPSE THE YOUNGER: Everything is true. GP: Even false things? M2: Even false things are true. GP: How can that be? M2: I don't know man, I didn't do it.